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tv   Mary Lane Hitlers Last Hostages  CSPAN  October 11, 2019 3:47am-5:01am EDT

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♪ ♪ ♪ >> not long ago were not far away.
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smith that deliberate destruction because of the story of the foundations of the people's culture of places of worship and then use snap their spirits you undermined their ability to fight or identify as a people we have seen that with the last two years with iraq and syria with the islamic state this destroying mosques and shrines in ancient sites and they saw what they saw cherished destroyed and assumed they would be the next victims so
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the strategy for the islamic state resulted in a huge wave of refugees. exploring the many ways which for hitler was a key strategy hitler wanted to control not only what they thought but what the german saw and limit creativity to aryans alone. so telling stories of artist who courageously fought against hitler's proclamations and tells the story of other more cowardly artist and then tell stories of the nazi art confiscation and those who
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sole confiscated art and we are fortunate to hear a few of these stories. so the book concentrates and when did you first hear of the story. >> in november 2013 i was here in manhattan and i god a phone call and i kept both of my phones on and it was active and an editor told me 1300 works had been found in the apartment of a recluse whose father who was a dealer to the nazis i needed to come back immediately and i had 48 hours to write a story for the front
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page about this person i never heard of. that was rather terrifying. i was 26 and was a reporter but this was the middle of new york art week which is a massive economic event but i got on the plane and went back wrote the first six page one stories that took me on a wild adventure that was very unexpected. >> a lot of people have written about this case. >> i think i was asked to write the book by my agent that would have been interesting but i think the bigger picture that the dealer for the nazis who said did the
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work is part of a larger problem in germany and of this fallout from the war and raising questions about art restitution so deliberately journalism is a fundamental thing so writing the book i wanted to make it a broader story about how it is indicative of a larger trend and also dig into the wise you don't have to dig into with the article so that's why it was a very calculated choice with hitler as a child because that is a topic with which people are naturally uncomfortable because there is a difference of who was a
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human and to see how someone is born to become anti- somatic those who fought against him and how that created the situation so guess we'll see if we can get this to work and so in those ways and that we have so much in common so in terms of the artist the holocaust victims
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but i found him to be someone incredibly moving before hitler took power and he made a very specific and then to have a lot of jewish friends and then he put his career on the line and then that was criticizing and that politicalization of teachings and there was a judge in the back that was criticizing political corruption and that
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bellicose nature so to criticizing christianity but it wasn't but it was the youth of people to go to war so that created worldwide with the quakers in america that god bless them are not known to be art savvy people defended him and praised his bravery. he emigrated to america and had ptsd and then died. and is someone i felt attached to it when a lot of germans say to stick up for wide is right it might hurt their career i point them out.
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>> how different was that in writing for the journal at the time? >> it was a whirlwind. i started writing as a fulbright fellow at 22 and then to write the book around 27 and now i'm 31. it was isolating. the growth things speaks to that a lot of our journalist frankly gets sucked into parties and castles and that is an interesting part to keep
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in your head but it is a lot more entertaining so especially if your waking on - - working at home and have your coffee and there is a book on hitler sitting on the table. so there are thousands of books out there about hitler and the nazis in world war ii as there should be but what we wanted to do with this book was that narrative nonfiction so it reads like a story in detail about the weather or what somebody war and so it takes a lot of time and work which you have to get into their head. so living with your subjects a
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little bit more than an article. >> did you get stuck? >> i think the only time you get stuck is when you are either not sure what you want to say or you are scared of what you want to say. i guess one example of getting stuck was writing about the death of the children because i wanted to write about it because it is a tragedy. it is these are the children of a horrible man but they are still kids and i was scared people would think that my saying the death and the brainwashing of these children is somehow to be compared to the death of german jewish
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children but the reality is i think i just had to deal with it that children of both jewish and non-jewish heritage were treated horribly during this time. >> what didn't make it in the book? >> we tried a lot of american audiences shy away from graphic depictions of sexuality and violence more sexuality in particular and that being said to be considerate in a good way so i remember making a list from
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the republic that i thought were overlooked in which artist do i want to put it because they are relevant to the topic in which put in? and a lot didn't make the cut. it is just as patronizing as it is to put a few more. and then with the sexuality there are discussions of male or female sexuality we couldn't put in the book. >> so go to the content. this is great actually. and with political chaos and the problems that can happen as a result and to be here with his sister he was the son
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of a prestigious art dealer in germany and he served in world war i and when he did so hildebrand got the idea he wanted to become an art dealer and art historian and director for an industrial town and he wanted to show modern contemporary art and explain how wonderful that was. after world war i he became the director and he did just that and once hitler came to
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power he had a choice to make if he would stick his neck out or the work with the nazis so one of his friends became director of the museum project which was the project to create a museum in austria to have the best area and art and concurrently destroy degenerate art throughout europe and he decided to move this to help the nazis. and he did so working throughout the netherlands and germany and france and on the side in addition to helping hitler he amassed hundreds of artworks that were either not fitting into his museum or
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that were degenerate so the providence records that show where the artwork had been that left the studio to the current moment and he managed to deceive them and went so far as to ask jewish friends of his who had friends who moved to america and to ask vulnerable jewish people who also help the nazis to have a stake in the matter to write letters and he got away with it. he died in 1956 in a car crash and his son cornelius took over hiding the family
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collection and essentially lived as a hermit for a long time until the german government discovered the find in 2012. >> how did they figure it out? >> cornelius was on a train coming back from switzerland and the train the people frequently go on and he was asked by the german customs office and acted suspicious that they searched him and
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found 9000 or $10200 in cash on him which is below the legal limit to declare but they were in crisp bills which is usually laundering money. so they made a note and later customs officials searched it it seems that he doesn't exist in the system they ended up getting a warrant to go into the house and they found 3100 works of art a lot of different artist in those by
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the rosenberg family and then and another by max lieberman. they did not disclose them to the international community which is what they had signed on to do with the washington principals they kept them secret and they did so until that november when i wrote my first story then purely a tax investigation had nothing to do with art history and that's
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how it came to the public. >> if you don't pay your taxes quick. >> that's generally it so in the collection the one on the right it is a fun piece of work it is a big no-no for hitler a black person in a white person interacting like normal humans. . . . . any moth.
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this is a portrait after her son died and it shows two women having sex. we will get to that in a minute. yes, there were a lot of degenerate works and claimed in many of the private letters that he had kept them to protect them but then the question is why would he not work to get them
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back after. >> it's fascinating you said we want to destroy all this hard sell it to people outside of germany and make the cash and then take over that country and destroy its later. >> here in new york they tried to caution a lot of people about that because the most famous example is the auction in switzerland where a lot of people including the pulitzers were like this is great, a lot of great artwork at bargain prices but they said to be careful because the money they get from this is going to fall down. hitler always considered himself an artist first and politicians suck and and that is why he sort
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of prioritized the taking of a coach or. >> and he followed up artists including this guy. >> as you can see here, he was an older artist significantly older than hitler when hitler took power. he was sort of considered when we think of iconic american rock music we think of bruce springsteen for example. he was like that but for german art. if you thought of him as an iconic german artist, so when hitler came to power he already had an established career and
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the pros in the mind prose in te non- theist was established artist married to an area in. i'm putting a lot of things "-end-quoteinquotes. he was from freesia which many consider a german culture and civilization, and he loved portraying the strong natural world of germany. the downside was that he was known for pieces like this one for portraying the ethnic minorities in non- pandering ways. he had some jewish friends and loved using color to evoke feeling whereas hitler was very
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much into the photorealism, painted exactly the way it looks. so later on, he was actually when he went to a center and saw a kid drawing a dog with a green crayon. and so, he was in thi would senn possession and actively decided to try to ingratiate himself with a propaganda minister and invited him to the 1933 november university where hitler was there and wrote about how wonderful it was to hear him without the filter of a video and he immediately wrote a book about the years of struggle.
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in it he modeled the whole book so he talks about the german culture and how he met a jewish person when he was 17 and said he had a sort of instinctual need that this was so obvious the characteristic of jewish people and this whole thing. he tried to be part of the group and even denounced an artist who wasn't jewish but with this name he told them this guy is jewish. he said he wasn't and i also don't like jews, but in his career if were offended and backfired when hitler decided he didn't like him and he became
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the lowest teacher in 1937 and then he fashioned himself as he sort of went off into the countryside and just sort of disappeared for the rest of the war and afterwards he fashioned himself as a victim of the regime which is true and that's something i have an article out today on a sort of how his estate is coming to terms with the fact he was very anti-semitic and the state covered it up. i remember researching a book. they were doing a tour into
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101943 and 1945 they were on vacation. one of the first things i did for this because god be definitive biography and there were like two pages 1932 to 1935 and it said things are really stressful so i just decided to take a break and go on vacation. when you compare them, he risked his whole career to stand up for what was right and i found those artists very, very striking in the difference of how they would help defend freedom and the
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jewish people. i began to learn the importance of the regime when i was in graduate school for archaeology so we will send you during the winter. the hotel doesn't have heat and my home does, so i spent the night by myself and the next morning i woke up and said here is the register at me show you the guestbook and it turns out that was quite the experience.
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fighting the war is equally as important as fighting to expand their territory so why did he believe that? >> i think that he was very shrewd in noting that you if he had gone to the german people who have jewish neighbors, minority members and set all these people are harmful and the culture we are living in right now is bad let's go and leave poland, they wouldn't necessarily gone along with it.
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he realized he needed to control the culture and people's day-to-day interactions with the media in the times that he would get them acclimated in that way and at the start of the war is e particularly this year with the anniversary and when they invaded poland they came to power in 1933 it is featured here and as you can see part of
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my book cover. so, he realized he needed to capture the culture before he could move onto actual physical violence and he was able to do the censorship of the culture it's just art and music. it doesn't really matter and now it is sort of gateway into the actual eugenics program of six years before ever getting an actual invasion. >> so how long the repercussions of the policy have been. so you would think that it discovered should be publicized. descendents of the owners come forward immediately and i remember this on the wall of our
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family home. the germans say the statute of limitations has expired and they never charge him with a crime and would have ultimately donate the artwork to a museum in switzerland and it's still an ongoing investigation with seemingly no end and the art will be returned. what do you think should happen to this art? >> i think what should have happened should have happened in 1998. there was i don't know why i'm saying his name with a german accent. the special envoy appointed by clinton. every administration has kept him send. he organized the washington principals conference in dc and germany along with several others signed on to the washington principals.
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germany still has not. i think that that should have been codified before the case. also yes i think it is understandable they have a statute of limitation and many have an exception for her work between 33 and 45 from people one could assume are holocaust. the german government doesn't have that exception so i think it was very frustrating.
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it is in this sort of gnashing of german culture, but people in germany are very particular about petitioning this is my job, this is not my job. this is legal it doesn't necessarily matter whether it is moral and a fat is something tht very much came into play with the cases. they wouldn't necessarily put soft pressure on him to give the work back so the contrast to this we are going to see in a second. at the same time they were
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trying to get a painting à la norway from a museum but it was in good faith from the same family. perhaps you could come out with a statement that would say it would be nice if you did. so i think that there needs to
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be if it was a tricky question the differences between what is moral and what is legal but i don't think that it's to go around criticizing someone's appearance so there needs to be a reckoning of how much we need to align in these type of situations. >> there's also the question of what is possible because the history and information has been lost so they are more successful in claiming this piece because they could prove it. why have other pieces not yet gone back? >> this one is two hours on the beach which belonged to a man whose parents were murdered in
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auschwitz and he survived 9/11. lightning apparently strikes twice. in many cases, yes it is incredibly unfortunate he purposefully collected the works on paper because they are easier to transport and then often it is easier to hide where they came from. how do you prove that yours is this sketch that is definitely a problem and the reality is that a lot of the work even if the church and did i to decode germn government did everything they could when they leaked to the
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media these families have proof that it was their work created and they had all the document and it was impossible to get them back because the statute of limitations expired and the government was not helping as much as they could have. >> so you explain it as those concluded that disciplining supporters but committed violent crimes should take priority is over investigating the goal of purifying culture was very important. do you agree with this and what do you think its impacts have
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been? >> it's definitely true that it's more valuable than objects. i think it is completely understandable and good that the initial priority was prosecuting people who destroyed human life because that is paramount now that we are 70 plus years on, there's been plenty of time and plenty of resources to look at what we call hitler's last
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passages which are these artworks that are still being held and physical items that are still being held. families deserve to its preservation of the culture and restitution of the culture the fight shoulishould very much thn the objects. i think ordinary germans were much more aware of the case and anecdotally my friends who are
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german are much more aware of this being an ongoing problem but they still have not fixed a lot of the legislative protections for people that owned this work change is gradual and often one step forward and two steps back that there was an exhibition last year there was an exhibition called status report and i went to both the. i talked about this and the last chapter is the sale but the
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epilogue talks about last year and they had the parthenon's is a standard discussing where it went from the beginning of the works of creation to now they had thhave the parthenon's lists private collection. i wonder what this is because the personal before.
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these are clearly in the collection of the other. he said is that relevant and i said i am thinking yes. i said so there's not like if any of these are first of all the valuable. the value is anytime its value is up, monetary value. so this is upping the value of the work and it is a taxpayer-funded exhibition upping the value of the work and if any of them are looted, there is no way to compel him to get them back to their original owners. he was like i'm an art historian and that would be a thing for
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the politicians to deal with. so i called them and they are like we are just not art historians and you feel like you are in a nazi themed version of the book like are you the person that deals with this, so a lot of it is still very much passing around the football, which is not great. so i think people are becoming more transparent about it when you look at the recent research to exposing it is the fact you can't keep that quiet anymore, but there was a justice minister where all this played out.
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it is by so much are very upset with how this has played out. if you knew something had been stolen, picture whatever you want. i don't deal with stolen art. people would be very angry if they found out this traffic cop didn't also say you know what, i
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smell a rat. you might need to deal with this also. he did a very rousing speech to a key set his book in school that was his favorite was falconer and let's write this and if you look at the german protocol and an explanation that i can having lived there ten years i can count on one hand. the next discussion was about
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regulatory procedures for altering the code of real esta estate. it's not about this at all if of a colonial era collection. david started to return objects collected from german colonies from unwilling populations.
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it's about who deserves access to art and who should be allowed to see it. hitler had a very different set of answers to questions and i think that when we drag our feet and refuse to ask the hard questions we perpetrate his answers to the. [applause] she's agreed to take a few questions and i think there is a microphone coming around. >> if you have a question you can raise your hand and we will come down with the microphone.
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i have a question regarding the process obviously there was a lot of research, what about the outline of giving this? how long did it take you to figure out what the arc of the story or was it just a straight journalism. often i worked on the advice of certain holocaust experts like richard evans but i didn't have an assistant, sometimes i wish i
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would have. from 2017 -month-old months ago in writing the book because it is nonfiction it took quite a while for example everybody knows hitler didn't like jews, but i wanted to make it come alive. in terms of the arc, there were a few unexpected people that
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became a bigger part of the story than i thought. the book was bought into the final product was i think a lot of researchers don't really stop anyone of what i was trying to do is show to people that were smart but not necessarily in this world wide something as important way it's becoming anti-semitic and why is this still a problem. for the research and
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acknowledgment of the private collectors who could ever say what it was or was he selling to museums, or what was going on? he had to swiss bank accounts, probably more one of which was managed if he was in switzerland withdrawing cash. he would sell the work through a few different option houses in germany and switzerland he would
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sell the work and then pay cash for it so he was withdrawing cash from his bank account to live off of. in israel of 1961 it was an indication that he had a collection was that ever really located and yo do you have any knowledge of that? i think that he was more of a collector but maybe that will be
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my next book. i actually don't know. i think if he had to sum it would certainly be more of a minor thing, but i don't know. i will look into that. thank you for your time, both of you. do you think when you start with the culture of the music comedy bars, isn't that simply a way of controlling people and setting them up to accept what you want to do next, the invasion and things of that nature innings you are controlling what they are hearing on the radio, the music the they are listening to and you are setting them up to be, giving birth was the most important thing, and setting up a culture so that when you take
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what would be an unthinkable step, people are no longer thinking for themselves, they are thinking the way you want them to think and get why you would start with culture before violence. >> that is absolutely right. a lot of the art at the time as you can see which of these images and more and more in my book the art was depicting. there is a misconception that they were created by jewish germans. the majority were not. it was the content more than the people creating it that was the problem so if you are depicting a woman being happy with her sexuality and a jewish person just doing these normal things and feeling like the rest of us, that is what was considered objectionable. the more you can censor people
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seeing other types of people as normal, the more you can censor the criticism through the work that shows the trauma of world war i to accept a certain regime change. >> one more question. >> as many questions as you have. any other questions? >> [inaudible] hewitt go throughout europe and get the part of why he liked getting t work on papers because they are pretty easy. if people buy a work on paper, he is likhe's like i know collet will buy something with tens if not hundreds of thousands
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[inaudible] would you mind using the microphones folks can ask -- panic if there's any movement to legitimize or show is at the
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house of art and munich they have an exhibition that showed the art that was approved and a lot were critical of that. a lot of it is actually quite boring because surprise, surprise when you strip all creativity out of art. much to my chagrin.
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it's a lot like people are scared to read mein kampf but if you read it it is so boring. it is a mythical magical word there is a disturbingly large number there's a difference between buying it and looking at it.
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>> i think that people take one more question. i think that we have one in the back. we lived in germany for quite a few years with the culture in the majority who go there don't believe that you have. is there an attitude among the politicians and people in power we paid them back enough, stop bothering us about this it's not worth our time.
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the the son of david who was given back to here in america the general sense that he gets is he wasn't even alive at this time he should just be happy he is living in america. they want to try to make things right but i think that the dirty
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little secret of politics in a representative government is there's not a lot of movement from the people electing you to a say do this then what is the incentive to do that. the real question is who is putting the politicians in power it would be fine if a politician had a base in his constituency that said you need to do something about this. i think it is more than
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politicians. the fact that anti-semitism does exist and from a personal point of view that is what is driving the politicians not to give back to those that have lost the art pieces. i would direct you to chapter one of the book. the portrait of the dictator's. i think people, that's something people shy away from.
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he was a 1-year-old who could talk and needed his diaper changed. so then the question is i think people like to think that he was just born this way and certainly he may have been worn with certain psychological traits but one interesting thing that we covered in chapter one is how he was born in a town that didn't particularly have any anti-semitic problem, they gave out a citizen of the year award every year against some people in the town and they rallied
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behind them. at the end of world war i he went and fought world war i and was kind since germany was going to win, this was going to be easy and it would be over in a snap and that is not what happened. then you get hit with reparations and economic crisis and the rest of the world hating you and he needed someone to blame. he couldn't believe that this was a failed war due to the financial policy so he needed someone to blame and he had to
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find someone to blame so he picked jewish europeans. >> that sounds disturbingly familiar. >> we are going to close it up here. thank you so much for joining us. [applause] there's going to be a book signing in the lobby.
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